HP Technology Scours the Internet for Video Related to Study Topics

Working on the premise that learning is better with the aid of video, Hewlett-Packard's lab in India has developed an algorithm that loads relevant videos from multiple sources including the Internet, based on keywords in the text of the book or document that a user is reading online.

HP VideoBook, which is scheduled to launch in India in the next few weeks, will initially target schools, but can be used by corporate customers as well, said Biswanath Bhattacharya, vice president and general manager of technology services at HP India. Links to the videos are found next to the text content within a browser interface.

There is already interest in this product from HP entities in other countries, he said.

The algorithm is expected to drive sales of HP's computers, servers, storage and services, according to Bhattacharya. "This will be a volume game," he said.

The software has already been tested by some 600 students in schools and colleges in the country.

Schools will have the option to have a version hosted and run by HP, which will have content tailor-made for the school, and they can pay by number of students using the system, said M. Lakshmi Narayan Rao, HP India's national manager for cloud consulting services. The schools can also have an on-premises version in which case they will pay HP a license fee. While HP initially will require that the schools provide the content, it may down the line tie with content providers to offer schools a complete package, Rao said.

In a typical deployment, users will access e-books recommended by the school through the VideoBook website. Links to video will get automatically downloaded to the website either from YouTube or from other repositories approved by the school, depending on keywords identified in the text.

The algorithm is "agnostic" and can search for video content across the Internet, university repositories, third-party content providers, and repositories set up by the schools, said Krishnan Ramanathan, senior research scientist at HP Labs India. The software is designed to find the most important and relevant videos on each topic and for each grade, he added.

The video can be a lecture, an application of a concept, or an experiment, which will significantly enhance learning, Rao said. Teachers can set filters to further fine tune the videos for relevance and the grade of the student, he added. Using a version of crowdsourcing, students can also rate a video for relevance, and move it up or down on the list.

For enterprise users, HP plans to offer a computer plug-in that loads video links when a document is opened. The algorithm will be particularly useful in the training of new employees, Rao said.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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